Now, twelve remain. Derry, Cork, Mayo and Clare have advanced to the final round of the qualifiers, where they have been Tipperary and the losers of the provincial finals. We can predict with some confidence that Westmeath will lose to Dublin (the bookies have them at 1/100), but God knows who'll lose out between Galway/Roscommon and, most intriguingly, Tyrone/Donegal.
Thanks to the splitting of the football qualifiers into an 'A' and 'B' side, we know now either side of the football championship, and can thus start plotting routes to the final. One side of the draw looks considerably more difficult than the other.
Here is how either side looks:
And there were 12:
Kerry, Galway, Roscommon, Tipperary, Clare, Derry.
Donegal, Tyrone, Dublin, Westmeath, Cork, Mayo.#GAA
— John Fogarty (@JohnFogartyIrl) July 16, 2016
Here is how the quarter-final draw will work, courtesy of this rather useful wallchart on the GAA website:
The winners of the Connacht championship (Galway/Roscommon) and Munster champions Kerry are guaranteed to be on the 'A' side of the draw, meaning their possible opponents will be two from Tipperary, Clare, Derry and the loser of the Connacht final replay.
This means the other side is the highest quality B-side since Strawberry Fields Forever. Take the losers of the Ulster final, for example. If Donegal lose, they will drop into the qualifiers, to face Cork or Mayo. Then an All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin beckons. Flippin' hell.
The semi-final draw will look as follows:
So, to continue this hypothetical situation in which Donegal lose the Ulster final, only to bounce back in the qualifiers and shock Dublin in the quarters, they'll likely face Kerry in the semi-final.
Following the scenic route through the qualifiers, Mayo will face either Donegal, Tyrone, Westmeath or Dublin in the final round of the qualifiers, and should they advance from there, they'll face either Dublin (Leinster winners) or the Ulster champions. Then, the semi-final would likely be against Kerry.
The route looks best for Kerry, who will have a relatively straightforward quarter-final (Galway potentially the trickiest opponents) before a semi-final, most likely against Dublin.
Now, enough with the hypotheticals. On with the football.